Iba pang budget insertion ibinuko na rin ni Lacson
(Pilipino Star Ngayon) Updated September 16, 2008 12:00 AM
Hindi lamang ang P200 milyong budget insertion ang tinumbok kahapon ni Lacson, kundi maging ang iba pang “budget insertion” na ginawa sa Senado.
Natuklasan umano ni Lacson sa page 564 ng 2008 General Appropriations Act sa ilalim ng budget ng Department of Public Works and Highway (DPWH) ang paglalaan ng budget para sa widening ng Governor’s Drive (Carmona-Dasmariñas-Trece Martires City Road including bridges) na nilaanan ng P50 milyon, pero sa page 646 ng nasabi ring budget book naglaan na naman ng panibagong P50 milyon sa kapareho pa ring proyekto.
Sinabi pa ni Lacson na sa pitong taon niya bilang mambabatas, ito ang unang pagkakataon na nakakita siya ng dalawang bersiyon ng iisang House bill, ang House Bill 2454 na isang kaso rin ng double entry.
Sa nasabing HB 2454 na tinawag ni Lacson na Red Version, nakapaloob ang locally funded projects ng DPWH na nagkakahalaga ng P52,648,923.000. Pero sa black version umano ng nasabi ring HB 2454 ang pondo ay naging P65,461,538,000, kung saan lumobo ito ng P13 bilyon.
Tahasang ikinumpara naman ni Sen. Joker Arroyo si Lacson sa isang security guard na natutulog sa kanyang trabaho kaya nalusutan nang nadiskubre nitong P200 milyong budget insertion.
Sinabi ni Arroyo na katulad ng isang security guard na natutulog sa trabaho, nagrereklamo si Lacson matapos magising at matuklasan na nanakawan na siya.
Kung isang pulis umano si Lacson, posibleng natanggal na ito sa trabaho dahil hindi agad nakita ang sinasabing lumusot na ‘budget’.
Ginawa ni Arroyo ang reaksiyon matapos mag privilege speech si Lacson tungkol sa mga budget insertion na natuklasan niya sa 2008 national budget.
Pinaninindigan ng ilang senador na walang masama sa ‘budget insertion’ dahil dito napopondohan ang ilan sa kanilang mga proyekto.
Pagkatapos ng tatlong beses na suspensiyon, nauwi rin sa adjournment ang sesyon ng Senado na magkakabalik ngayong araw sa ganap na alas-3 ng hapon. Inaasahan na muling mauungkat ang hindi natapos na isyu sa budget insertion kung saan nakakaladkad ang pangalan ni Senate President Manuel Villar. (Malou Escudero)
Villar admits involvement in ‘double insertion’ in budget
09/16/2008 | 08:58 PM
MANILA, Philippines — In a turnaround from his earlier denials, Senate President Manuel Villar Jr on Tuesday admitted that he personally requested the additional budget for the C-5 road extension project in Parañaque City.
But he stressed that there was nothing anomalous with this action.
In an interview with Ruth Cabal of GMANews’ ‘24Oras,’ Villar admitted that he asked for the additional funding, but said he did not demand for any specific amount.
He added that request as such for certain projects is normal.
“Sa Senado lalung-lalo na kung Senate president napakaraming pakiusap na tinatanggap at ‘yung mga gusto naming mga proyekto ay gusto naming mapondohan (Here in the Senate, especially if you are the Senate president, we receive plenty of requests for funding for pet projects,” Villar said.
“Basta additional funding without specific amount pero kung ‘yun lang ang maibibigay, ok lamang ‘yan (As long as it’s additional funding without specific amount, it’s okay with us,” Villar added.
He also explained that the two C-5 extension proposals, indeed, are two different projects, opposite to the earlier claims of opposition Sen. Panfilo Lacson.
“Dalawang proyekto ‘yan. “Yung isang proyekto ay flyover na magkokonekta sa Coastal Road. ‘Yung second project ay flyover naman na magco-cross ng Sucat. So, eto ‘yung sinasabing isang proyekto lang, dalawang proyekto ‘yan (There are two projects here. One is the flyover connecting Coastal Road and the second project is a flyover that will cross Sucat. So this what they say is only one project but it’s actually two,” Villar explained.
But Lacson reiterated his stand that two separated P200 million insertions was for the one and the same stretch of road, adding that the investigation on his exposé should pursue.
“Pinakita ko na nga na ‘yung ibang proyekto naka-indicate point by point kung para saan ‘yung appropriations. Pero itong sa kanya, ‘yung sinasabi niyang hindi double entry, iisa naman and description. So palusot nalang ‘yan (I’ve already shown that in the other projects, the appropriations are indicated point-by-point. But this entry, which he (Villar) says is not ‘double entry,’ has only one description. So, he’s just trying to wriggle his way out),” Lacson said.
Senator Francis Escudero echoed Lacson.
“Que political of personal man ang rason nananatiling may issue at may tanong na dapat sagutin (Whether it’s political or personal reason, there is an issue raised that has to be answered,” Escudero said.
The report said the three resolutions seeking for the investigation of the scandal were already referred to the Senate Committees on Finance and Public Accountability (Blue Ribbon Committee).
Villar said he will not inhibit himself from the case, saying he will face any charges that will be filed against him.
Meanwhile, Sen. Joker Arroyo, a close friend of Villar, vowed to block any move that will lead to the investigation of the scandal.
“… Tell me Sen. Lacson where is the corruption committed?” Arroyo asked.
To which Lacson retorted: “Patulog-tulog siya kapag may privilege speech, patulog-tulog siya kapag meron business dito sa Senate, sa floor, tapos salita lang siya ng salita na hindi niya naiintindihan (He is not paying attention when we have business here in the Senate and he talks without understanding).”
Amid the brouhaha, oppositions Sens. Benigno “Noynoy” Aquino III and Manuel Roxas stressed that the opposition remains solidly united behind Lacson’s move to expose any anomaly in the national budget.
Administration Sen. Juan Miguel Zubiri, on the other hand, described the bickering as just an appetizer for the nearing 2010 national elections.
“Yung nakikita po natin na putik na tinatapon on both sides ano na po ‘yan appetizer sa 2010 elections (What you have witnessed, in which both sides are throwing mud at each other, is just a prelude to the 2010 elections),” Zubiri said. – Aie Balagtas See, GMANews.TV
Question of Privilege of Rep. Joker Arroyo
(on charges against Rep. Villar)
I rise on a question of collective privilege on a constitutional issue that affects the integrity of the House and it is very ripe to continue existing.
In the course of the fight for the speakership, Rep. Agapito Aquino, chairman of the reform bloc, raised questions regarding the fitness of Rep. Villar to seek the speakership. Rep. Villar chose to answer the charges but he was overwhelmingly elected Speaker by this House.
Successful election, however, does not answer the questions nor lay to rest charges of wrongdoing, not in government of laws.
We had a colleague, we still have a colleague in the person of Congressman Jalosjos. He was elected by his district but that did not erase his conviction. So, drawing a parallel election does not wipe out the offense.
The questions raised, nay, the charges against Speaker Villar are constitutional in character. And our duty as members of the legislature is peremptory and clear. We took oath to support and defend the Constitution and uphold the laws. The Constitution has been violated, laws have been broken. If we are to continue in the capacity of public officials, if this Chamber is to continue in its very character as legislature, an indispensable pillar in the system of checks and balances, then we must come to the Constitution’ s defense and the vindication of the laws.
I hesitated long and pondered hard whether to raise these questions for fear of being accused of sour-graping and being a poor sport. But this has nothing to do with sports. Our duty is clear, there are charges of illegalities, the charges must be heard and answered. I am reminded of the case of Speaker Newt Gingrich of the United States House of Representatives. He was investigated by the United States House of Representatives for I think collecting some fees of books he wrote while Speaker (I am not too sure of the facts). But one thing I am sure of is this, the House after hearing censured its own Speaker and penalized him with a penalty was meted out. In other words, there are precedents and we must not hesitate to do our duty.
Article XI of the Constitution is titled “Accountability of Public Officers” it proscribes in Section 16 that:
“No loan, guaranty, or other form of financial accommodation for any business purpose may be granted, directly or indirectly, by any government or controlled bank or financial institution to the President, the Vice President, the Members of the Cabinet, the Congress, the Supreme Court, and the Constitutional Commission, the Ombudsman, or to any firm or entity in which they have controlling interest, during their term.”
Charge I. Low cost housing is totally dependent on government agencies such as PAG-IBIG, National Home Mortgage Finance Corporation (NHMFC), SSS, GSIS, and other government financial institutions.
Speaker Villar and the companies of which he is President or Chairman, or where he has a controlling interest, are the biggest low-cost housing developers in the country. To be more specific, it is the Camella and Palmera Homes and its principal subsidiaries, the Household Development Corporation and Palmera and Communities Philippines.
In violation of the constitutional injunction, these companies were given financial accommodations by government banks or financial institutions, among them, PAG-IBIG and the National Home Mortgage Finance Corporation among others, during Speaker Villar’s term as Representative from 1992 to 1998 to finance their business purposes.
Charge II. Representative Villar, from 1992 to 1998 did not divest himself of his interests in, nor did he sever his connections with, the companies aforestated. They obtained financial accommodations from the above government financial institutions while he was a Member of Congress. Since he did not, therefore, such companies were forbidden from entering into such financial arrangements.
Because of our Constitution, Republic Act No. 6713 known as the “Code of Conduct and Ethical Standards for Public Officials” states in Section 9:
“Divestment. – A public official or employee should avoid conflicts of interest at all times. When a conflict of interest arises, he shall resign from his position in any private business enterprise within thirty (30) days from his assumption of office and/or divest himself of his shareholdings or interest within sixty (60) days from such assumption.. .”
Charge III. Nor has Speaker Villar, up to now, I am saying up to now, divested himself of his interests in, nor has he severed his connections with, the companies aforestated. Speaker Villar is in no hurry to divest because he has declared that he is under no obligation to do so. A continuing violation.
Charge IV. Speaker Villar controls the Capitol Bank. Mrs. Villar is the chief executive officer. The Capitol Bank received loans, financial accommodations and guarantees from the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas from 1992 to 1998 while he was a Representative. That is constitutionally forbidden.
To sum it up, the constitutional prohibition is very simple. If a Representative has a controlling interest in a firm or entity, that firm or entity cannot be extended a loan, a guaranty, or a financial accommodation for any business purpose from any government financial institution.
If that firm or entity would like to obtain a loan, a guaranty or a financial accommodation from a government financial institution, that firm or entity must first relieve itself of the controlling interest of the Representative.
It is my humble submission that Speaker Villar did not do either.
Republic Act No. 3019, otherwise known as the Anti-Graft and Corrupt Practices Act, provides in Section 6 therefore as follows:
“Sec. 6. Prohibition on Members of Congress. – It shall be unlawful hereafter for any Member of the Congress during the term for which he has been elected, to acquire or to receive any personal or pecuniary interest in any specific business enterprise which will be directly and particularly favoured or benefited by any law or resolution authored by him previously approved or adopted by the Congress during the same term.
The provision of this section shall apply to any other public officer who recommended that initiation in Congress of the enactment or adoption of any law or resolution, and acquires any such interest during his incumbency.”
In other words, even if he was not the principal author, if he did ask or initiated the enactment of such a law, he is covered by the prohibition.
Simply put, during our term of office, each one of us, it shall be unlawful for us to author any law or resolution that would benefit or favor us. The above prohibition shall apply even to that representative who just recommended, not even authored, the enactment of such law that benefited him.
Charge V. Representative Villar, in his bid for the speakership, prepared a propaganda kit that he distributed to Congressmen and media. I think you were given copies of the one. It is entitled “Manny B. Villar, Jr., Achiever and Visionary Leader,” and [in] the “Legislative Performance of Congressman Manny B. Villar, Jr.” Representative Villar unequivocally said that he “incorporated in the landmark Comprehensive and Integrated Shelter Finance Act, Republic
Act No. 7835, the recapitalization of the National Home Mortgage and Finance Corporation and the amendment to the Agri-Aqua Law to include housing investment.”
Speaker Villar’s companies are engaged in housing. He thereby violated the Anti-Graft Law.
The aforementioned Act, which incorporates H.B. No. 6145, co-authored by then Representative Villar mandates “banks to extend to housing loans not utilized for agriculture and agrarian reform credit.” In other words, loanable funds for agriculture and agrarian credit are to be re-channeled to housing, Speaker Villar’s business.
Representative Villar co-authored H.B. No. 11005 which “increased the capital of the National Home Mortgage and Finance Corporation” and is the main source of funding of Speaker Villar’s companies. President Estrada admitted that the National Home Mortgage and Finance Coporation is presently bankrupt. He said that to the following: LAMP President Edgardo Angara, Congressman Agapito Aquino, Presidential Legislative Liaison Officer Jimmy Policarpio, former Congresman Miguel Romero and myself. The President no less said that it is bankrupt. Increasing the capitalization of a bankrupt GFI benefited Representative Villar’s housing companies.
In the same propaganda kit of Speaker Villar, it states that “also passed by the House were Villar’s measures to make Pag-ibig Find contributions compulsory and to increase housing investments with the SSS.” Pag-ibig is a main source of funding of Speaker Villar’s companies.
In a word, Representative Villar’s legilslation from 1992 to 1998 were designed to benefit his business, a violation of the Anti-Graft Law.
Now, the same provision of the Anti-Graft and Corrupt Practices Act, provides in the third paragraph of Section 6 thereof, as follows:
It shall likewise be unlawful for such member of Congress or other public officer, who, having such interest prior to the approval of such law or resolution authored or recommended by him, continues for thirty days after such approval to retain such interest.
Charge VI. When those bills that Representative Villar introduced or co-authored were enacted into law, he did not divest himself of his interest in his companies that benefited therefrom.
Now, Republic Act 6713, known as the Code of Conduct and Ethical Standards for Public Officials provides in Section 3 (j):
Section 3 (j) “Divestment” is the transfer of title or disposal of interest in property by voluntarily, completely and actually depriving or dispossessing oneself of his right or title to it in favour of a person or persons other than his spouse and relatives as defined in this Act.
Charge VII. Manuela Corporation applied for and was granted a loan of P1 billion by the SSS, a government financial institution. Another P2 billion loan would be syndicated with another government financial institution, the GSIS. Total syndicated loan from the two GFIs: P3 billion.
Manuela Corporation, a housing and realty corporation, is owned by the family of the wife of Speaker Villar. An indirect financial accommodation. Again, the same Code of Conduct and Ethical Standards for Public Officials states in Section 3 (k) thereof:
Section 3 (k) “Relatives” refers to any and all persons related to a public official or employee within the fourth civil degree of consanguinity or affinity, including bilas, inso, or balae.
SSS, historically and as a matter of public policy does not extend direct loans to any company. It extends loans to banks or to public or private financial institutions but not directly to business enterprises. The direct loan to Manuela Corporation is a first in SSS history.
Charge VIII. Manuela Corporation owes the Capitol Bank, which also owned by Speaker Villar, P150 million. There may be nothing wrong with that because both are private entities. However, out of the P3 billion earmarked to liquidate the P150 million Capitol Bank loan to the failing Manuela Corporation. In other words, it is a financial accommodation extended by GFIs to relieve Capitol Bank, owned by Speaker Villar, of the P150 million loan. Another indirect financial accommodation.
Charge IX. The Comprehensive Agrarian Reform Program (CARP) is being undertaken in obedience to a constitutional mandate. All lands covered by CARP cannot be used for residential, agricultural, industrial or other uses unless a clearance, conversion, or exemption for a particular property is first issued by DAR.
Speaker Villar’s companies are developing or have developed 5,950 hectares or almost 60,000,000 square meters of CARP lands into residential subdivision without the appropriate DAR issuances that would authorize such lands to be used for residential purposes. A traducement of the constitutionally directed CARP law.
Article XIII of the Constitution, in Sections 4,5,6,7 and 8 states with clarity what the agrarian reform program is all about.
Just to give you an idea about how big 60,000,000 square meters is – my constituency of Makati is only one-third of that size. It is only roughly 21,000,000 square meters. If you add the entire area of Las Piñas and Makati, that is the residential subdivisions covered by the companies of Speaker Villar.
The House cannot reform itself, much less even operate effectively if a cloud of doubt hangs over the Speaker of the House. It is to the interest of the Speaker and the Members no less if these concerns are addressed frontally and resolved forthwith to clear the path for meaningful reforms.
Public office is a public trust. We, the representatives of the people pay a price for getting elected to public office. The Constitution imposes on us certain constraints which we must follow to the letter.
Let me allude to the Members of Congress who are barristers – the Constitution forbids us, lawyers, from appearing in court. In my case, for instance, I was a practitioner up to 1992. I got elected to the House so I stopped practicing, or in other words, I no longer appear in court. That is the price I have to pay. I think I was earning adequately in the practice of law, but I have to make a choice. Do I want to be a lawyer or I want to be a Congressman? If I want to continue being a lawyer, then I must not be a Congressman. If I have to be a Congressman then I must stop lawyering. That is what the Constitution says.
So in the case of Speaker Villar, it is simple. If he wants to go/continue in business and deal with government financial institutions, he can do so but he cannot also be a Congressman. If he wants to be a Congressman, then he must not be in business which deals with the government. We have to pay a price.
So, this case is a learning experience for us all. Whatever the outcome, it will show the things we can do, the things we cannot do, and the things we must do.
I would propose that the House of Representatives constitute itself into a Committee of the Whole to hear the charges and the Speaker’s defense.
He will have a trial that is more than fair to him for he will be judged by the very peers who elevated him to be the first among equals, only this time they will judge him according to the law.
I will never seek the speakership again nor in any manner challenge the leadership of Speaker Villar except on this specific issue of constitutional breach that calls into question the rule of law.
This is how important it is. So I rest my cause.
Senate panel OKs Villar censure
By Aurea Calica (The Philippine Star) Updated January 19, 2010 12:00 AM
MANILA,Philippines – The Senate Committee of the Whole has recommended the censure of Sen. Manuel Villar Jr. for unethical conduct when he sought the realignment of the C-5 road extension project to benefit his properties in the area. The report said he must pay more than P6 billion to cover the government’s expenses for the highway.
Senate President Juan Ponce Enrile, chairman of the committee that drafted the report, said 11 others had signed it along with him and agreed to tackle the report on the floor.
Those who signed were Senate President Pro Tempore Jinggoy Estrada, Senate Majority Leader Juan Miguel Zubiri, Senators Rodolfo Biazon, Panfilo Lacson, Jamby Madrigal, Edgardo Angara, Benigno Aquino III, Manuel Roxas II, Richard Gordon, Francis Escudero and Francis Pangilinan.
Enrile said he would sponsor the report today as it had been filed last night.
There had been serious doubts on whether the C-5 report would be adopted or even discussed on the floor since Villar and 11 other senators had signed a resolution dismissing the charges against him.
Those who signed such resolution favoring Villar were Villar himself, Estrada, Pangilinan, Senate Minority Leader Aquilino Pimentel Jr., Senators Joker Arroyo, Alan Peter Cayetano, Miriam Defensor-Santiago, Gregorio Honasan II, Pia Cayetano, Manuel Lapid, Ramon Revilla Jr. and Loren Legarda.
But Enrile said the signing of the report did not mean that the Senate already convicted Villar because they would still have to debate and vote on it.
“Regardless of whether or not they agree with the report, they can sign. But as far as the voting is concerned, that’s another matter. (It’s) only to bring the matter to the floor for discussion and then we will vote on whether they agree with the sanction,” Enrile said, adding that he recommended a reprimand since it would be impossible to get two-thirds of the senators to expel Villar.
He also noted that it might not be possible to suspend Villar due to lack of votes as well.
Enrile said Villar could answer on the floor anytime to defend himself. Villar had been snubbing the hearings of the committee of the whole, saying the Senate was only a kangaroo court out to convict him.
Conflict of interest
Despite the nine session days left for them before the campaign period in February, Enrile said they could still dispose of the matter.
In the draft report prepared by Enrile, the committee said Villar violated Article VI Section 14 of the Constitution and Section 3 (I) in relation to Section 9 of Republic Act 6713, or the Code of Conduct of Ethical Standards for Public Officials and Employees, and for engaging in improper and unethical conduct as a senator of the republic and had, by committing such violations, damaged the integrity of the Senate as an institution.
The report said Villar failed to avoid conflict of interest situation by not divesting himself of his shareholdings or interests in Adelfa Properties Inc., Golden Haven Memorial Park Inc. and Azalea Real Estate Corp. (now Brittany Corp.) when it was apparent to him that the corporations had contracts with the government, through the Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH), for road right-of-way acquisition.
It said Section 9 of RA 6713 mandated that a public official or employee must avoid conflicts of interest at all times.
“For the benefit of his corporations, Senator Villar made the Filipino people suffer the total amount of P6,226,070,427.00,” it said.
The C-5 case stemmed from the expose of Lacson who said a senator sought an additional P200 million for the P200 million allotment for the project in the 2008 national budget.
Madrigal then filed an ethics case against Villar for plunder and conflict of interest, saying the former Senate chief benefited from the project.
The issue also cost Villar the Senate presidency as his colleagues decided to oust him when the issue broke out.
No direct evidence
Enrile said they considered the witnesses and pieces of evidence in deciding on the matter.
Based on the report, the money that the committee was asking Villar to return came from the realigned P4.28 billion for the extension project, the P1.8 billion spent for the original project but which was wasted due to the realignment, and the P141.1 million in overpriced right-of-way payments for Villar’s real estate companies.
“Villar was the proponent of the Las Piñas-Parañaque Link Road Project and the DPWH C-5 Road Extension Project were made to pass through the aforesaid corporations of Villar following a curved, instead of a straight alignment,” the report furnished to The STAR said.
Enrile refused to release the report but would not confirm or deny the contents of presumed copies in the possession of reporters.
But he said he would no longer call for an investigation into its leakage, saying it was now all up to the conscience of those who prematurely released it.
The report said the alignment of the C-5 segment of the Manila-Cavite Toll Expressway Project of the Toll Regulatory Board was changed to accommodate the two road projects.
But it added that there was no evidence that Villar had directly participated in the overpricing of his properties but he regularly funded the two projects chargeable against various infrastructures nationwide or against the Priority Development Assistance Fund from 2001 to 2008.
The report also said that Villar allowed a director, general manager, senior vice president and chief operating officer of his corporation, Adelfa Properties Inc., Anastacio Adriano Jr. to propose an amendment to the 2008 national budget amounting to P400 million for the C-5 project when there was no specific program of work for such project and despite there already being an allocation for the project.
The only apparent reason for the amendment was to make available an appropriation for the payment of right-of-way compensation claims of about P200 million, according to the report.
The report also stated that Villar used that power to satisfy the interest of his corporations, violating the conflict-of-interest rule and Article VI Section 14 of the Constitution.
Noting that Villar had proposed the C-5 extension project when he was still a member of the House of Representatives, the report said he “continued to fund” the project when he was already a senator, chairman of the committee on finance and Senate president, yet did not disclose his pecuniary interest as required by the Constitution.
A venue for Villar
Meanwhile, Sen. Alan Cayetano said the upcoming discussion of the Senate Committee of the Whole report will provide an opportunity for the public to discern that the charges filed against Villar were highly politicized.
“I am sad that this has become a numbers game rather than based on evidence. Having said that, the good news is there will be an opportunity to compare the two reports and I believe that when facts are made public the people will see that this has been highly politicized,” Cayetano said.
Since the SCOW will be read as a committee report and it will be scheduled for discussion, it will be up to the majority leader Zubiri to set the issue for plenary debates.
Cayetano said he has not seen a copy of the committee report and has no idea why Estrada and Pangilinan decided to sign it when they had earlier signed a resolution exonerating Villar. – Christina Mendez
Summary of Charges against Sen Manny Villar in C5 Controversy
AVAILABLE IN THE FOLLOWING URL: